How to Get a Work Permit in Spain

22 March 2019

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of how to get a work permit in Spain and who actually needs a permit to work here.

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Many people who decide to come to Spain, whether for a long visit or indefinitely, will plan on working in some capacity while they are here. And, of course, you want to make sure that you are doing so legally, with all the necessary permissions depending on your situation. For prospective business owners or self-employed people, the process can be especially tricky, so it is never a bad idea to consult a legal professional to ensure you meet all the requirements. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of how to get a work permit in Spain and who actually needs a permit to work here.

Work permit in Spain for EU citizens

The easiest place to start answering this question is who doesn’t need to get a work permit in Spain. Citizens of countries belonging to the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) or of Switzerland are allowed to move to Spain and work without any special permissions. In other works, there is no such thing as a work permit in Spain for EU citizens because there are no restrictions placed on these people. You will still have to apply for your foreigner’s ID number (NIE) within 30 days of your arrival in Spain, however; you won’t be able to get hired, get paid or do much of anything without this number.

Who needs to get a work permit in Spain?

Most people who are citizens of non-EU countries will need to get a work permit in Spain, although there are some exceptions. These usually include very specialized job sectors, like clergy members, foreign journalists or artists on tour, and sometimes university professors and researchers.

Additionally, if a person has entered the country on a family reunification visa to join a close relative or spouse who has been working in Spain for at least one year, that person will be allowed to work without a permit.

Now, as for how to get a work permit in Spain, it may seem counterintuitive, but you need to have a job offer before you can apply for a work permit. As a matter of fact, it is your future employer who will file the application with the labor office on your behalf. Once it is submitted, you’ll be sent a copy with your application’s file number, which you should include in the documentation you submit to the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country along with your visa application. Your work permit application will begin processing once the labor office is notified of your visa application by the consulate, but your visa cannot be approved until the work permit is granted.

For certain positions requiring post-secondary education of at least 3 years, your employer may instead apply for an EU Blue Card, depending on eligibility.

Self-employed people will have to submit a lot of extra supporting documentation, which may include a business plan, proof of qualifications, proof of funds to invest in your business, etc.

Work permit in Spain for international students

If you are residing in Spain on a student visa, the state considers your studies to be your primary reason for being here. This means that you are restricted to a maximum of 20 hours per week of work, and only on the condition that it doesn’t get in the way of your schoolwork. Aside from that limitation, the process of getting a work permit in Spain is the same. First, you need to find someone willing to hire you, and then that prospective employer will file for a work permit on your behalf (again, this does not apply to students who are EU nationals, who do not need a work permit in any case).